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Irish Rock Music Throughout The Decades

For a small country Ireland has made and continues to make a huge impact on modern music. Homegrown rock music in Ireland really started developing in the 1960s. At that time the Irish music scene was dominated by the unique Irish phenomenon of the 'Showbands' which were groups of professional performers who played at dancehalls and clubs across the country putting on a professional 'show' and playing all the American and British hits of the era. In the 1960s this was pretty much the only way a professional musician in Ireland could make a living. Two famous Irish artists that started off working in showbands but went on to put Ireland on the map as far as rock music is concerned are Van Morrison and Rory Gallagher. Van Morrison achieved international success in the 1960s with the beat group Them before launching a very successfull solo career that is still going strong in it's fourth decade. Rory Gallagher fromed the blues rock trio Taste and went on to achieve critical acclaim in his solo career which lasted until his death in 1995. He is considered by many music critics to be among the greatest rock guitarists of all time.

The early 70s saw a huge growth of Irish rock music and one band that rose to international prominence was the hard rocking Thin Lizzy led by Phil Lynott Another Irish band, Horslips broke new ground by mixing hard rock with traditional Irish music to create a new genre - Celtic Rock. They also challenged the idea that for an Irish band to be successful they had to leave the country and were the first major rock band to stay based in Ireland instead moving abroad to chase success. They created very original music and were hugely successful in Ireland but never achieved the international success that they deserved but they paved the way for another band that would remain based in Ireland and go on to dominate the music world - U2.

In the mid-70s, with a roots revival of traditional music burgeoning, folk rock fusion groups such as Planxty and Moving Hearts as well as singer-songwriters like Christy Moore and Paul Brady rose to prominence.

Some famous Irish Rock bands

The late 70s saw the onslaught of the punk rock movement and Irish bands right in the middle of the action included Northern Ireland's Stiff Little Fingers and The Undertones as well as Dublin's The Radiators and The Boomtown Rats fronted by Bob Geldof as well as the avant-garde The Virgin Prunes led by Gavin Friday.

The 1980's saw the rise to stardom of the most successful Irish rock band, U2 Since the release of 1980's Boy, U2 has grown to become one of the biggest rock bands in the world. Now in the third decade of their career they continue to achieve enormous commercial and critical success. Throughout their career U2 have kept their base firmly planted in their home town, Dublin. The band, especially front-man Bono is also well known for their social conscience and their involvement in various international causes.

The 1980's also saw the rise of The Pogues with a radical new take on traditional Irish music. Another Irish artist to rise to success in the 1980's was Sinad O'Connor. On the heavy metal scene guitar hero and former Thin Lizzy guitarist Gary Moore achieved success in his solo career and was regarded as one of the best. In the 1990's he returned to his blues rock roots. Also the group Mama's Boys from Co.Fermanagh became well known on the heavy metal scene.

In the late 80's and early 90s My Bloody Valentine pioneered an new style of rock, 'Shoegazing', and received much critical acclaim.

A new crop of Irish Rockers claimed success in the 1990's including The Cranberries from Limerick, The Frames from Dublin and Therapy? and Ash from Northern Ireland.

In the current decade the music scene remains strong in Ireland. Singer/songwriter Damien Rice has achieved a great deal of success and critical acclaim internationally and a new crop of singer/songwriters including the likes of David Kitt, Damien Dempsey, Paddy Casey and Mundy are making waves on the music scene. The Northern Irish band Snow Patrol have been building momentum since the late 90s and their fourth album, 'Eyes Open', is one of the top selling rock albums of 2006.


Irish Rock Legend Stamps - Rory Gallagher Irish Rock Legend Stamps - Phil Lynott Irish Rock Legend Stamps - U2 Irish Rock Legend Stamps - Van Morrison

A series of stamps were released in 2002 by An Post celebrating the biggest names in Irish Rock.

However they missed the opportunity to honour one of the most legendry bands in the history of Irish rock - Horslips! So has created the Horslips stamp:

Irish Rock Legend Stamps - Horslips